October 2018 Newsletter
October 2018

Dear Parents and Carers

I usually write each half term to look forward to what lies ahead in the coming half term. Please follow the link to the latest Dates for Your Diary (click here). Insert Link. I hope that your daughter/son/ward has settled into life at College, if they have just joined us, or into new classes if they are returning, and that they have had a productive and exciting half term.

Coming Up
The week beginning 5th November is a reading week for students and there are no timetabled lessons. Students will be expected to work on new assignments set for them by staff, catch up on any work they’re behind with and extend their subject knowledge with additional reading or other research. For Year 1 students there are also subject reviews to discuss their progress.

Progress reviews
On Monday 5th November and Tuesday 6th November Year 1 students (whether on Advanced or GCSE level courses) will have individual reviews for each of their subjects. Students are asked to make appointments with staff for each subject and find out where these will take place. They should remember to leave gaps between appointments to allow for movement between rooms and also for any delays.

Students are also encouraged to help out with our Open Evenings for students planning to apply for 2019 (6.30pm – 9pm, Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th November).

Autumn Report Card
A report card for all students will be available to view on the Parent Portal from 9th November.

Consultation Evenings
We will be holding our Year 2 and Level 2 Parents/Carers' Consultation on Monday 26th November This is an opportunity to discuss progress with your daughter/son/ward’s teachers.

There are a few points to bear in mind which will help us ensure the smooth running of the evening and help us to be good neighbours:
  • Appointments are made via an online booking system by you or by your  daughter/son/ward. This will be available on the parent portal (or My Varndean page for students). The booking sheet will be open for two weeks prior to the evening and shut on the Saturday before the Monday consultation meeting. If you experience any difficulty in this, please contact their Head of School. Tutors will also be available by appointment.
  • We recommend that you print off a copy (or take a screenshot) of your appointments showing names, times and locations.
  • Consultations are for 6 minutes and this is the only occasion when we use a bell to help us keep to time. We find that this time is usually sufficient to report fully on progress, but if, for any reason, a longer time is needed, a further appointment can be made at a mutually convenient time;
  • As these events are very busy, we ask that you or your daughter/son/ward make an appointment with only one tutor per subject;
  • Most staff will have full appointment schedules so we will need to keep to time and it may not be possible to reschedule missed appointments;
  • Staff will be in rooms in the main building and not in subject bases. In planning appointments for you, students will need to build in travelling time; leaving a single gap between each appointment if at all possible helps here.
  • Please respect local parking restrictions and do not park on the grass verges or illegally in the surrounding streets; ticket wardens are very active in this area.
Peanut/Groundnut oil allergies
We have a number of students with peanut and groundnut oil allergies with us this year. It is important, therefore, that people do not bring peanut or groundnut oil products to college. However, the level of risk this year is a little lower than previously and we now consider it safe for staff and students to have consumed these products before coming on site.

Online BTEC submissions
This academic year a number of BTEC courses are using online submissions via My Varndean for assignments. In order to make the BTEC assessment fair for all learners there are some strict rules that must be followed when completing assignments, these rules are made by the examination board and are implemented by all schools and colleges nationally. Failure to meet a deadline on a BTEC course is taken very seriously because it limits a student's overall grade and so the online submission system is designed to help students manage their time effectively,  and to ensure that they meet all deadlines.

‘Safe Drive, Stay Alive’ Road Safety Campaign
I have agreed for the emergency services to present to our Year 1 A-level students on the morning of 15th November at 9.30 am at Brighton Centre(Auditorium 2)  as part of the above campaign. Students will need to make their own way to the venue. They should be free to go at 11.15am and they are expected to attend their afternoon lessons (12.50 pm).

The presentation explores the consequences of being involved in a road crash using a DVD reconstruction and live testimonies from emergency services staff and survivors of road traffic collisions. The show emphasises the dangers inexperienced young drivers may encounter: excessive speed, using mobile phones, drinking/drug use, not wearing seatbelts and coping with peer pressure.

The concern of the emergency services is that young people feel that they are invincible as far as driving is concerned and that road collisions happen to other people. Statistics on 17-24 year old drivers/passengers highlight that they are particularly at risk.The nature of what the students see and hear is ‘hard-hitting’ in that it exposes them to the possible consequences of driving a vehicle on the road. The fundamental aim is not to shock or sensationalise but to bring home to students the gravity of the matter.

Having considered the contents of this, you may wish to withdraw your son/daughter from the presentation. I hope you will not feel this to be necessary and that you will understand the motivation of the emergency services in running this initiative of which we support. Should you still wish to withdraw your son/daughter/ ward please email office@varndean.ac.uk or students can withdraw by letting their personal tutor know. If you are happy for your son/daughter to participate then a reply is not necessary.  
Traffic On Site
We are becoming increasingly concerned at the amount of traffic on our site; this is particularly critical at the main entrance to the College where pedestrian and vehicular access is shared. We would ask you not to drive onto the site to pick up or drop off students, but to do this on Surrenden Road well away from the gates and double yellow lines. Parking on site is reserved for staff and visitors. Thank you for your cooperation on this. A reminder also that there is no student parking on site.

Parent Portal
Don’t forget, you can access the Parent Portal at any time to look at Progress Reports, attendance, course information, and email tutors. If you haven’t yet done so, registering is quick and simple: you could be up and running in 5-10 minutes; all you will need to hand is your daughter/son/ward's student number. If you don't have their number we have a help page where you'll be able to request this.

Contacting the College
It is my experience that many of the queries that parents have are addressed via the parent portal. However, if there are any unresolved queries, please do not hesitate to contact me at parents@varndean.ac.uk. It is possible to contact teachers, via email, directly from your son/daughter/ward’s timetable on the Parent Portal, but please remember that teachers are busy teaching, preparing lessons and marking and will be unable to respond immediately.

On behalf of the College I hope you and your families have a very pleasant half term and that your daughter/son/ward has the chance to relax and recharge.

Best Wishes

Phil Harland
©2019 Varndean College, Brighton, United Kingdom

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